The thrilling classic tale of a strange and sinister creature that stalks its prey mercilessly and changes shape at will
From the mysterious depths of Egypt comes a creature “born neither of God nor man.” This shape-shifting being has made its way to London seeking revenge for the crimes that have been committed against the order of its ancient religion—and the primary target of this merciless and relentless terror is politician Paul Lessingham. As panic spreads throughout the city, it falls to Paul and his friends to stop the beast once and for all.
Published the same year as the horror classic Dracula, The Beetle originally outsold Bram Stoker’s famous book. Richard Marsh’s story is a dark mirror of England at the end of the century, a tale of Victorian horror and mystery with a monster as dreadful and elusive as any in literature.
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Ripe with melodrama and purple prose, this ripping horror classic from Marsh, first published in 1897, epitomizes the style of the Victorian penny dreadful. Four sections, each narrated by a different character, interlock to relate the tale of an ancient Egyptian entity known as the child of Isis, who has traveled to London to torment Paul Lessingham, a member of Parliament, and his fianc e, Marjorie Lindon, as revenge for an indiscretion Paul committed during his travels in Egypt two decades earlier. Marsh creates an eerie atmosphere by keeping his story's supernaturalism tantalizingly ambiguous; it's never clear whether the occasional transformations of the child of Isis into the insect of the title are genuine or illusory. An overly chatty cast slows the tale's pace to a crawl and their penchant for conveniently fainting or falling into gibbering incoherence during dramatic moments reduces the novel to a clump of sensational set pieces. Though some readers will enjoy this novel's maximalist gothic flourishes, others will find the tale a bit over the top.